Friday, September 13, 2013

Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives ~ edited by Sarah Weinman

Author: (various) edited by Sarah Weinman
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher:  Penguin
Edition: eGalley
Source: NetGalley
Date Completed: Sept - 2013
Rating: 4.5/5

Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives, is a wonderful anthology of crime fiction (domestic crime fiction) from days gone by, all written by females. Edited by Sarah Weinman, this book contains some (14) chilling stories from days gone by.  Many of the authors were ones I was familiar with and a few I've enjoyed in the past, like Patricia Highsmith and Shirley Jackson. The authors in this compilation published these stories in the 1940s - 1970s, and before each story is a brief bio of the author and their work. Most paint an eerie picture of the sinister side of women. Some of the stories made me wonder whether the writers themselves might have experienced this darker side of domesticity themselves.  

Just a few of my favorites from the collection:
  • The Heroine; Patricia Highsmith  (about a nanny who appears to be very sweet, but we all know appearances can sometimes be deceiving)
  • Sugar and Spice; Vera Caspary  (2 women are in love with the same man which can only spell disaster)
  • The Splintered Monday; Charlotte Armstrong  (what really happened to my sister is the question an elderly woman has when visiting her sister's family following the death).
I actually enjoyed at least 10/14 stories in this book, even though I have never been a big short story fan.  However, for me, crime fiction is a special treat, and trust me, this collection is worth your time. The stories both shocked and fascinated me. Try a few of the stories and I bet you'll end up reading more than you thought you would.  

I loved that must every story takes place in and around the home and so many in the kitchen or bedroom (our favorite rooms right?).  Until finishing this collection, I never thought of domestic life as entertaining reading.  Trust me, revenge and an unstable frame of mind  at any age can prove to be deadly. 

One thing I noticed was that the choice of words and phrases in some of the stories definitely made the stories feel dated, but to me that was also part of the old-fashioned charm of stories from the 40s and 50s. The best feature about most of these stories was that they were about real life situations handled with a sinister twist. The 40s, 50s and 60s, were times when many an unhappy woman, just couldn't walk out of a relationship, so some of these women had backup plans. TRY IT!

Sarah Weinman is the news editor for Publishers Marketplace and writes the monthly “Crimewave” mystery and suspense column for the National Post. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the New York Observer, Slate, and the New Yorker online, among other publications.


  1. The cover and title made me chuckle but the book sounds good!

  2. I love that retro cover! Sounds like it was a fun collection.

  3. I'm looking forward to reading this one - nothing like bringing spookiness into a domestic setting for an unsettling reading experience!

  4. Okay, now I'm intrigued...I do like that time period, too. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sounds really good, Diane. I requested this from NetGalley too, but Penguin declined me as I have other things than just book reviews on my blog. Glad to get to see what you thought of it!

  6. Well I just love the cover and the title! Glad to hear to stories live up to that fun.

  7. This does sound good, and it would be historical, I think, especially in terms of the roles of women. Terrific review, Diane!

  8. What a great retro trip... I have not come across a short story collection solely in the crime genre before. It is sometimes hard for us in this day and age not to find ourselves thinking - surely just leaving him would be easier than killing him!?! ;)

  9. That cover is an eye catcher. I like retro stuff and this book does sound like fun. And I don't mind short stories once in a while.

  10. Glad you enjoyed it. I don't typically read short stories, just every now and again but I will keep my eyes open in case I see a copy of this whilst out and about.
    I do love the cover.
    Lynn :D

  11. Love that cover. It definitely says melodrama. Great review. Like you, I'm not usually drawn to short stories.

  12. Crime fiction and short stories are not genres I usually read. But I loved when you said this in your review: I never thought of domestic life as entertaining reading. :-)

  13. I love Shirley Jackson and Charlotte Armstrong. I'm curious to know if there is any Mary Roberts Rinehart to be found in these pages. Either way, I think I need this book.

  14. Sounds like a great collection, and I love the vintage cover!

  15. The cover is very pulp fiction-ish.

    I am not a fan of crime stories that are short. I tend to want to spend a little time with the characters when it comes to crime fiction.


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